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Studio Metro Underground to debut ‘7 Years’

June 7, 2014
By ROBERT W. PLYLER , Observer Today
On Friday and Saturday of the coming week, theater-goers will have the chance to see a world premiere performance of a new play, by an anonymous author from our community. The play is titled ‘‘7 Years,’’ and it is scheduled to be the second performance ever presented at The Spire’s newly-created Metro Underground Theater. The new play has been described by its director as ‘‘ ‘When Harry Met Sally’ meets ‘Frasier,’ ’’ because it is the story of ‘‘an inconvenient, devouring, painful and brutally realistic love affair between two young, successful theatrical artists in New York City, yet one which is told in dialogue which includes fast-paced quips and insightful conversations.’’ Let me give you the specifics of the production, and then share with you the interview which I did with Shannon Nixon, who will be making her directorial debut with this production. PRODUCTION FACTS Studio Metro Underground is located in the back of The Spire, with the address 316 E. Fourth St. Only Theater for a Cause’s production of ‘‘Twelve Angry Men’’ has been performed in the venue, previously. The Spire was created not long ago when Angelo and Ylsa Guiffre purchased the building which was formerly occupied by the First Congregational Church. The Sanctuary of the former church has been made into a large theater, and the former reception room adjacent to the sanctuary, has been made into a smaller theater. To reach the newly-created Studio Metro, it is important to park and enter the building from the Fourth St. side, because other events or rehearsals might be taking place in the other venues. Doors open on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and the performance is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance, and $12 if purchased at the door. Purchase pre-sale tickets by phone by calling 450-6277 or online at You can purchase tickets in person by going to the Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge, which is located above the Labyrinth Press Company Coffee Shop at 10 E. Fourth St. in downtown Jamestown. The principal characters in the play will be performed by Amanda Wickmark of Fredonia and Adam Hughes of Jamestown. The rest of the cast includes Don Hill, Kori Reynolds-Hughes, Stephanie Walker, Ylsa Maj Guiffre, Michael Centi, and Paul Schermerhorn. The production is being produced by Jamestown-based Masked Productions. THE DIRECTOR Shannon Nixon may be making her directorial debut with this production, but she has been very active in the performing arts, both locally and in more metropolitan sites such as New York City and Toronto. She created Masked Productions in 2013. The organization’s goals are to produce plays, concerts, athletic events and other events for use in raising funds for people in need and other charitable causes. Their web site lists support for individuals with medical expenses, assistance with adoption costs, charitable organizations, educational organizations, youth empowerment and activity organizations, human rights causes, small regional organizations, private schools, mission trip support, libraries and literary organizations, museums, arts organizations and athletic organizations. The organization presented its first full production of a play last January when they presented an adaptation of ‘‘Rebel Without a Cause,’’ at the Willow Bay Theater, presenting jointly with Hatikvah Ministries. They have done a number of other fundraisers. I met Ms. Nixon in a local restaurant, to talk about her production. She reported that she is a Jamestown native. She and her brothers were home schooled and she then attended Jamestown Community College where she earned an associate’s degree in business administration. She now spends much of her time traveling from Jamestown to New York City to Toronto. ‘‘I got interested in the theater at the age of 15,’’ she told me. ‘‘I read about auditions being held at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown for a production of the musical show ‘Cinderella.’ I auditioned, and was cast as a horse. She performed in minor roles in a number of productions, and gradually became more motivated toward dramatic productions rather than musicals. At the age of 17, she performed her first leading role as the leading lady in the play ‘‘A Few Good Men’’ in the role performed in the film of the same name by Demi Moore. While this progression was taking place, she auditioned for the ‘‘Chautauqua’s Got Talent’’ competition as a jazz singer. Among the things she won was a two-year engagement as a jazz singer at a local restaurant. She began a career as a model in New York City, advertising clothing lines and promotional events. One day, while riding the train back to Western New York from New York City, she got the idea to see if there might be a talent agency in Toronto which might advance her career. Four weeks later, she was signed by the Geoffrey Chapman Model and Talent Agency. Her organization’s web site announces that she will be singing with the Clark Eno Orchestra throughout the summer of 2014 and that she has recently created another organization called Bleeding Hearts Mecca, which conducts computer-based fundraising campaigns. It says she plans to expand her humanitarian work to a global level. In addition to presenting plays for charity, singing, acting, modeling, and fundraising, her interests are listed as kick boxing, hiking, horseback riding, knife throwing, collecting antique weapons and learning to speak Arabic. In her spare time, she is a freelance writer and says her true passion is creating play scripts. She told me she was shown an early script of ‘‘7 Years’’ and was drawn to its creative portrayal of a realistic situation. She cautions audiences that the play portrays adult situations and sometimes uses adult language, so she feels it is not appropriate for children. ‘‘The play concerns a young actress who is working professionally, who is cast opposite a young man, who is an athlete whose career has been ended by injury. He is now making a living as an actor but feels bitterness over what could have been for his life,’’ she said. ‘‘The plot covers the next seven years of their lives, sometimes in hostility, sometimes in affection. The script doesn’t answer all the questions which might arise about their lives, just as you wouldn’t know those things if you actually knew these people. That was one of the things I liked about the script.’’ I asked how she had cast the production. She answered that she announced auditions in several places and eventually held two days of auditions. A total of 15 actors auditioned for the non-paying roles from which she chose her eight performers. ‘‘We’re doing the production as a low-budget event. I’m paying for necessary expenses myself in the hope that ticket sales will pay me back. This production isn’t a benefit for a charity but it is intended to let the community know that Masked Productions is here and what we can do,’’ she said. How are rehearsals going? She answered, ‘‘They’re going really well. The cast has a great many lines to learn, especially the two leads, and the plot is very intense and requires a great deal of focus. I have to say, I’m lucky to have this cast and I’m impressed by how professional they act.’’ She added that she also considers herself lucky to have the playwright attending rehearsals to guide the play’s focus and to authorize minor changes which might be necessary in the script when the production is actually performed, rather than being read. ‘‘I think this play is going to appeal especially to young audiences because the combination of the performance space and the script are eclectic and artistic, and because the premise of the play is about situations which many young adults have experienced and which they may experience. ‘‘When you perform a play, you do it for the audience. If you don’t connect to the audience, you don’t complete your goal. The support of a community is necessary for any artistic organization to thrive. Jamestown and Chautauqua County are proving themselves to be the kind of atmosphere in which the arts can thrive, and in return, they’re likely to be reaping the cultural and the economic benefits of a successful arts atmosphere,’’ she concluded. WINKS We have two announcements from the Robert H. Jackson Center: The center has recently opened an exhibit titled ‘‘Say I Taught Thee: The Life of Mary R. Willard.’’ The exhibit focuses on Ms. Willard, who was several times cited by Justice Jackson, the center’s dedicated figure, for the excellence of her teaching and for the profound influence which he felt she had on his life and character. Included in the exhibit is a project completed by students in Pine Valley, in which they wrote to some of the people who they felt had important and positive influences in their lives. The exhibit opened Thursday. No closing date is listed in the release nor on the center’s web page, but based on past exhibits at the center, you should have plenty of time to go down and see it. Second, the Jackson Center is accepting nominations and applications for two separate initiatives under their education program. The 2014 Teacher Fellowship Program is open to secondary teachers, meaning grades 6-12, in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Applicants must demonstrate excellence in the classroom, involvement in community organizations, and demonstrate an understanding of the history of Justice Jackson and his importance to the development of law and history. Three educators will be selected to work with the Center to create educational materials relating to the Center and its mission to be used in classrooms. The RHJC Award for Teaching Justice is a $1,000 award for creating an outstanding curriculum to teach justice, including such areas as civil rights, international justice, genocide, the Holocaust, local issues of justice and similar areas. The winner will be honored as a ‘‘Jackson Center Outstanding Educator,’’ at an awards banquet. For additional information about these two programs, go to the Robert H. Jackson Center web site. Application deadline for the Teacher Fellowship is June 13 and for the Teaching Justice Award is June 14. uuu If you can get to Barker Common in Fredonia by noon today or shortly after, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is conducting a giant barbecue, or as they call it, ‘‘a Bachbecue,’’ featuring chicken, ribs, chef salad, potato salad, and a roll, for $11. Provider is BW’s Smoking Barrels Barbecue. Also taking place will be a bake sale and a basket raffle. The basket sale offers 26 tickets for $10. The tickets may be dropped into a container in front of any one or more of the 17 baskets, which include a wide variety of goods and services donated by area businesses and individuals. The bake sale and basket raffle began at 9 a.m. this morning. The event is to benefit the annual Bach and Beyond Baroque Festival, which will be taking place live next weekend at the Opera House. The event takes the place of the Bach Yard Sale which in previous years has helped fund the festival. The three concerts making up the festival begin at 8 p.m., Friday and next Saturday evenings, and at 3 p.m. next Sunday afternoon. Individual tickets are $20 or you can purchase a season pass for all three for $51. For information, phone the Opera House at 679-1891 or visit their web address, at You can read the programs for the three concerts at the web address.

Article Photos

Submitted Photo
Amanda Wickmark of Fredonia and Adam Hughes of Jamestown are shown in rehearsal for the world premiere production of the play ‘‘7 Years,’’ which will be performed Friday and Saturday at the Studio Metro Underground Theater, within The Spire, in downtown Jamestown.



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